China is Leading the Integration of Multi-energy Sources

“Think big” – under this motto, a new multi-energy power plant has been built in China. The power plant integrates wind power (400 MW), photovoltaic (200 MW), concentrated solar energy (50 MW) and an energy storage system (100 MWh) into a uniform network system. It was built as part of the “Luneng Haixi Multi-Mixed Energy Demonstration Project” and is expected to generate around 126,000 MWh of electricity per year. After a 17-day test phase, it is now on the grid.

Operators hope that this project will signal the adoption of novel regenerative energy generation systems and smart grids around the world. HUANG Shilin, Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of battery specialist CATL, believes that this centralised multi-functional power plant will provide “incentives for more differentiated renewable energy projects around the world” due to its reliable technology and cost-effectiveness.

Equipped for adverse conditions

CATL is the largest Chinese battery supplier specialising in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Participating in the multi-energy power plant posed some challenges for CATL. Especially the heat management of the power plant was unusually complex. The new power station is located in Golmud, a remote region in the southwestern mountains of China. For the operation of batteries the area was less than suitable. Temperatures can vary between -33.6 and +35.5 degrees Celsius – a real stress test for the batteries. To allow the battery to last at least 15 years, CATL has installed a cooling system with air vents and airflow designs that keeps the temperature in the cabinet at a constant level. A battery management module activates the cooling system as soon as the temperature limit is exceeded and pre-stored electricity protects the battery from capacity drop.

Temperatures are not the only problem in the remote region. Golmud is located in an active earthquake area. Protection against vibrations and shocks were therefore absolutely necessary. In a Test & Validation Center, CATL provided evidence that the batteries can withstand a magnitude eight earthquake. By comparison, the highest earthquake ever measured had a magnitude of around 9.5. It destroyed a Chilean town and triggered a 25 meter high tsunami.

In Europe, the Chinese battery manufacturer plans to build a plant near Erfurt, Germany. CATL intends to increase its capacity by 14 GWh and from 2026 on it will increase its capacity to a three-digit range. This is what Matthias Zentgraf, European leader of the Chinese cell manufacturer, said at the Car Symposium in Bochum. If the plans become reality, CATL will outperform Elon Musk’s Gigafactory in Nevada, California, which currently has a capacity of 20 GWh.

Chinese energy companies are looking to Europe to collaborate with innovative companies on creating new projects. But where are European energy companies looking? What are the opportunities for European energy companies and what challenges exist? Let us know in the comment section on our LinkedIn profile.

3 Lessons I Learned from Studying Chinese

I am a final year student at the School of Oriental and African Studies graduating this July with a BA Chinese (Modern and Classical) degree.

I grew up in a small town close to Florence with a Chinese mother and an Italian father. But I only began to study Chinese when I finished high school. I was 19 and hadn’t made up my mind about what to study at university. So, I decided to take a year off and went to China.

A couple of months after I finished my final exams, I was on a plane to China to study Chinese language at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. My experience there completely changed my view of China. I fell so in love with the local language and culture that I decided to pursue this interest at university.

West Lake, Hangzhou

For anyone who is thinking about taking Chinese studies at university, I can think of 3 reasons why the answer should be yes.

1) It helps you to understand centuries of Chinese culture

China boasts more than 5,000 years of history that underpin the culture and the way of life of the Chinese people.

Learning Chinese is the first step to fully understand the Chinese people and their millennial culture. The Chinese language contains words and expressions that reflect their traditions and values.

Take the character for home and family家 (pronounced jiā). It if formed by the roof radical 宀 (pronounced mián) and the character 豕 (pronounced shǐ) which means pig. But how can a pig under a roof contribute to a home or family? Interestingly, in ancient China families would keep their pigs (most likely the earliest domesticated animals) in their home; thus, having a pig under the roof indicated that this was a place where people lived.

This example demonstrates how language and culture are deeply intertwined. Learning Chinese opens up your door to one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

2) It benefits your brain

Studies have demonstrated that learning a foreign language can have cognitive benefits. It helps to build multitasking and decision-making skills, and it improves memory.

Learning Chinese is a further exercise for the brain. Unlike English, Chinese is a tonal language and its writing system is not based on an alphabet of 26 letters but on characters each of them holding a specific pronunciation and meaning. It is estimated that 3,000 characters are required to be able to read a newspaper.

Mastering thousands of characters can be daunting especially for people whose first language is alphabetic, but research suggests that it has noticeable benefits on the brain. Why? Because learning Chinese utilizes areas of the brain that other languages do not. Compared to many European speakers who use only the left temporal lobe, Chinese speakers use both.

Therefore, challenging your brain with all these characters may indeed have positive effects and makes you smarter.

3) You will make new friends

When I was in China, I noticed that speaking the local language made a great difference compared to using English. Although younger generations in urban areas usually can speak English, I realized that using Chinese made communication much easier (some people were even too shy to use their English language skills).

Speaking the local language means that you are putting in an extra effort to understand the culture and it impresses the person in front of you. I have found that Chinese people are very curious, especially when it comes to foreign cultures, and friendly, meaning that it is easy to make new friends. During my year in Hangzhou I met people whom I am still in contact with. New friends but also new connections.

So, don’t be afraid to speak Chinese outside of the classroom: it’s good practice (we learn from our mistakes) and it will be fun!

Now I would like to ask you: Have you started studying Chinese yet? What do you like about it? And, what are the biggest challenges you have encountered so far?

This article was written by our guest writer and intern Elena Yumin Paci.

The World’s Largest Human Migration

The journey home to the Chinese Spring Festival begins on the 21st of January. Over the past weeks China has been preparing to ensure the smooth running of services during Earth’s largest annual human migration. According to a National Tourism Conference on Spring Festival on Monday, 4th February, a total of 406 million train journeys are expected during this period, an increase of 30.89 million (8.2%) over the previous year. This year marks the first time that passenger traffic during the travel season for the Spring Festival exceeds 400 million.

GUO Zhuxue, vice president of the China Railway Corporation, stated the country would continue to expand the frequency and range of its Fuxing express trains. The 17-car Fuxing high-speed train and the centrally-driven electric Fuxing trains reach a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour and will be used for the first time this year.

China’s rail system will serve more than 10 million passengers daily during the holiday period, and more than 60 percent of its passengers will travel home on high-speed trains. Last year, China built 86,000 kilometres of roads, including 6,000 kilometres of highway, bringing the total road length to 4.86 million kilometres. With 190 million private cars currently driving across the country, there will be a greater number of people traveling on the road during Chinese New Year. “Motorways will continue to be free for small cars during this year’s Spring Festival,” said Deputy Transport Minister LIU Xiaoming.

The cause the world’s largest annual human migration is the desire to spend Chinese New Year at home with one’s family. Like Christmas in the West, the Spring Festival is a time spent with family and loved ones. As Chinese New Year is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and those who have helped to shape our business. It’s been an exciting year for us all! We hope the year of the Chicken has been just as memorable for you, your colleagues and your loved ones. We look forward to working with you in the years to come. We wish you all a happy and successful year of the Pig.